Remember when the world was flat? That was back in fall 2012. Now it’s as 3-D as can be, all arcs, curves, circles and swirls in a collection that nevertheless referenced Rei Kawakubo’s groundbreaking 2-D collection with its first look out — a black dress (of sorts), its sheer bodice revealing a harness underneath, its huge skirt made of what appeared to be stiffened organza, rippling like waves and bordered in padded velvet.
A little help here, Rei? “The only way to create something new was to start without the intention of making clothes,” she said backstage postshow.
Got it. Well, maybe not. That Kawakubo challenges is a given; the questions each season are how and why. Is she making a major proclamation on the state of fashion or the larger world? Is she mocking us for assuming so? Does she ever think, in the deepest, most private recesses of her mind and soul, “Commercial — that’s what resort’s for”?
Kawakubo’s runway suggested spring’s antiflat manifesto; the models traversed a large, gently sloping arc of unpainted wood. There were lots of bound arms and harness constructions, and some pieces were framed on pannierlike cages. Even given such recurrences, each look was wildly different from the one that preceded it, a point highlighted by the soundtrack: Every girl had her very own, its music (or other sounds) unrelated to the next. Some in the audience viewed the cages as exoskeletons; was there a bug motif?
One thought crossed the mind: that Kawakubo was in twisted merch mode, set on delivering something for everyone in the world’s most perverse lifestyle lineup. Cocktail Dominatrix in harness and flounce. Pretty Crazy in Pink with separation issues (teddy bear attached). Galactic Morticia in saucer skirt with train. Lolita at the Asylum in baby-doll pleats. There was even a perversion of a chic chemise. And were the big black overlapping curves on white canvas intended to reference the rue Cambon?
The show triggered countless other questions, rumblings, musings, as we expect of any Kawakubo extravaganza, and along with them, the raw, rare excitement that such uncertainty brings. Nearly four weeks into the season, that’s called fashion fabulous.